6/26/12. Madison River boat launch park to West Yellowstone – 52 miles
BRUTAL – a one word description of the past 2-3 days riding.
The idea seemed like a good one. Get up early at first light and on the road to try and avoid the strongest headwinds. So, we were up and I was out on the road by 5:30 am. (it gets to be daylight around 5 and dark around 10:30 pm). However, the headwinds were already up and swirling as I hit the road. The plan was to ride approx. 18.5 miles to a restaurant for breakfast and avoid the heaviest headwinds. I rode the first 11 miles alone and just about cried. This was essentially a flat road and I was going 4-5 mph. The good news was that my legs and lungs were holding up admirably, a testament to my ever-improving conditioning. But, the memory of the past 2 days and being confronted with the never-ending headwind was taking its toll on me mentally. It was like being in a wind tunnel out in the middle of nowhere with no end in sight. I tried singing out loud and that worked for maybe 30 minutes. Then, I tried the “1 mile at a time” trick, but soon lost enthusiasm. Also I was operating on no coffee – a real no-no.
I started feeling a little bit like I was losing my mind, and began wondering if I would make it the 50 miles to West Yellowstone. At approx. the 10 mile mark, I just had to get off the bike and lie down for a minute to rest. Plus, by then I could see Randy a mile or so behind me and decided I would wait for him to catch up. He came up with the same look on his face that I imagine was on mine. We commiserated for a few moments, then trudged along again. We also agreed that we were willing to consider a ride if a big truck came along and offered.
We finally reached the RV camp on the map that was supposed to have a restaurant and, more importantly, coffee. It had taken me almost 4 hours to go 18.5 miles. The restaurant was closed for breakfast, but would open in 1 hour for lunch. The owner of the RV park came out and offered to let us hang out at the office/rec room, and gave us a cup of coffee. We snacked and I took a short nap on a very comfortable couch with the owner’s dog Sam while Randy checked his e-mails. At 11:00 we had grilled cheeses and sweet potato fries (more of the frozen food variety and not very good). The owner’s husband told us that the forecast was for the headwinds to continue through most of the day. We began looking around for big empty trucks headed in our direction. Randy had looked at the map and thought that once we reached a certain point approx 5 miles ahead, we might actually have a tailwind for a while that might give some relief. I resolved that I would go back to “1 mile at a time” mode and just gut it out the 30 miles until I either got there or someone picked me up.
We left the RV park at approx 12:00 pm and headed once again into the headwind. I commenced to singing the “100 bottles of beer” song in my head and was monitoring to see how many miles I could get per completion of a round. That got me into a rhythm. Also, at least I had had some coffee and food to fuel me. So, my attitude was looking up. The headwinds started easing a little, and I was making approx. 2-3 miles per round of the beer song. Then, we actually went around a bend and a tailwind took over for the first time in what seemed like days – I was cruising again! For approx 10 miles we glided along approx 10 – 20 mph along the beautiful scenic Madison River with dramatic hills alongside. I actually saw the scenery instead of just the road ahead of me. Alas, all good things come to an end, and the final 14 miles or so were back into the headwinds. Not as bad as before, but bad enough given the stage of exhaustion at that point. But at least the end game was in sight and I had a motel room waiting.
Pulled into the Westwood Lodge at approx 4:00 pm and was ecstatic to find that they had tubs. Soaked, took a nap and walked to Subway with Randy for dinner. I was so tired, and it felt great to crawl into bed.
Randy heard from Frank, who is camping approx 14 miles down the road. I assume Roger is with him, and apparently Andrew is somewhere in the vicinity.